|(1 - Crytzer:) I would like to comment on the March 1 letter titled |
"Biosolids safe for farm use."
reviewed research materials concerning the use of sewage sludge
("biosolids") as a soil amendment in both the United States and Europe. My
readings revealed that studies have been done on plants grown on
sludge-amended soils - and animals raised on food grown in the soil.
However, I could find no studies on people living or working in areas of
sewage sludge use.
Why haven't such studies been done? The complaints are there, but the studies are absent.
The greatest danger of sludge dumping, experts say, is that no one really knows what is in it. The concentration of contaminants in sewage sludge can change daily from load to load, yet a weekly analysis of the sludge process by the processing companies is considered frequent.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a cautionary statement relative to sewage-sludge use: "Because analysis of the sewage sludge is the responsibility of the operator of the municipal-treatment plant, landowners and other communities considering acceptance of sludge should insist that sufficient testing has been conducted to assure that the sludge is suitable for the intended beneficial use."
Read the above paragraph again and answer these questions: Who must insist that sufficient testing has been conducted, and who is responsible for the testing?
According to an article by syndicated columnists Jack Anderson and Jan Moller published in The Indiana Gazette, Dec. 30, 1998, a 1993 EPA report found that 54 percent of the 30,000 industrial users nationwide were in "significant noncompliance" with waste pre-treatment limits or reporting requirements, or both.
But, according to Anderson, rather than cracking down on such practices, the EPA has orchestrated and funded a massive public-relations program to "educate the public" about the "beneficial uses" of sludge.
Anderson went further to say that he was surprised to learn that the EPA's top sludge regulator, Alan Rubin, had been lent to the Water Environment Federation, the sludge industry's lobbying and public-relations arm, in 1995 while the EPA continued to pay half his salary.
When asked by Anderson about the dangers of sludge, Rubin responded, "In all of the years I have worked on this, I've never seen a documented case (facts are gathered, report is written and peer reviewed by qualified scientist) of a human getting sick from or an animal dying from biosolids or exposure to biosolids." A very convenient "backdrop" statement.
A Jan. 22 Associated Press report revealed that private laboratories are increasingly being caught falsifying test results for water supplies, petroleum products, underground tanks and soil, hampering the government's ability to ensure that Americans are protected by environmental laws.
David Uhlmann, chief of the Justice Department's environmental-crimes section, said, "In recent years, what has come to our attention is that outside (non-government) labs are oftentimes in bed with the people who hired them, and conspired to commit environmental crime."
Just remember, should your water source or your property be devalued or destroyed by contaminants contained in sewage sludge spread by your neighbor or on your neighbor's property, you cannot hold the licensed sludge-processing company liable.
The landowner who accepted the sludge is responsible for the damages and/or cleanup, and he may not have the same community interests and values that you have.
©Indiana Printing & Publishing Co. 2003